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Bestia chefs to open Bavel Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown L.A. on Friday

Bestia chefs to open Bavel Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown L.A. on Friday
A selection of small plates from Bavel, Bestia chef Ori Menashe's new downtown L.A. restaurant. (Nicole Franzen)

From a new food hall in Orange County to a Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown L.A., here's what's happening in the food and drink world:

Round two: Bestia chef-owner Ori Menashe started a new Italian movement when he opened his Arts District restaurant in 2012. With his house-made charcuterie, almost al dente pastas and roasted marrow bones (all of which now have their own cult following), the restaurant is still one of the toughest reservations in the city. But as much as he's known for his take on Italian food, Menashe has also been talking about opening a Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown L.A. since 2013. Fast forward five years later, and Menashe and his wife, pastry chef and Bestia co-owner Genevieve Gergis, will open Bavel — maybe the most anticipated restaurant opening of the year — on Friday. The Middle Eastern restaurant is located in the Arts District, less than a mile from Bestia. The name is a reference to the story of Babel in the Old Testament, and the idea of the Middle East as one. The restaurant pulls from both Menashe's and Gergis' family backgrounds in Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. And the menu is a mix of flat breads and spreads, cured meats, small plates that feature salads and vegetables and larger meat and fish dishes. Bavel, designed by Studio UNLTD and Gergis, is housed in a brick warehouse with skylights on the roof, planters hanging from those skylights and clerestory windows. The restaurant will start with dinner service and plans to add lunch eventually. 500 Mateo St., Los Angeles, (213) 232-4966, www.baveldtla.com.

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Lunchtime: Orange County is known for its beach cities, Disneyland, endless strip malls and, in the last five years, food halls. There is an actual artisanal food hall scene in the area, with dedicated restaurant hubs in Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana — and now, Tustin. Mess Hall Market, a new 12,000-square-foot food hall, is scheduled to open at FLIGHT, a 38-acre creative office space complex, in Tustin. Created by the Lincoln Property Co., the food hall will be home to nine food vendors, including projects from Andrew Gruel of Slapfish, Aaron J. Perez of Vaka Burger and Danny Godinez of Anepalco. The market will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also look for a location of the Lost Bean, which serves coffee, tea and juice. Laguna Beach-based restaurant Another Kind Cafe will serve Vietnamese food at one stall, while the Little Greek will offer Greek street food at another. There will also be a shop called the Sandwich Society, with sandwiches, salads and soups.1705 Flight Way, Tustin, flight-tustin.com.

Get stuffed: Dumplings west of the San Gabriel Valley? Yes, but at Stuff'd, a new dumpling shop on Melrose Avenue, they're of the Eastern European variety. Stuff'd opened a little more than a week ago in the former AMMO space. This is where chef Missy Kim (former executive chef at Café Stella) is making Siberian dumplings stuffed with beef and pork in a sour cream sauce; Kalua pig and cabbage dumplings with a spicy soy vinaigrette; and chicken and vegetable dumplings in a Thai curry sauce. In addition to the dumplings, Kim is also making miso black cod; and strawberry rhubarb dumplings with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. The restaurant was designed by Project M+. 6909 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 424-7148, www.stuffdco.com.

All-star dinner: A group of this city's best chefs are throwing a dinner party to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Factor's Famous Deli. On May 15, the Mozzaplex's Nancy Silverton, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Bruce Kalman of Union, Adam Perry Lang of the soon-to-open APL Restaurant and Micah Wexler and Michael Kassar of Wexler's Deli will cook dinner alongside Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in New York City and Hedy Goldsmith of Sweet Hedy at the Mark for Events event space on Pico Boulevard. The dinner will be hosted by culinary MC Billy Harris, and proceeds from a live auction will benefit the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Tickets are $218 and include a hosted cocktail hour, passed appetizers and a multi-course dinner. VIP tables of 10 guests (including a chef-meet-and-greet, photos, 10 signed cookbooks, 10 William Sonoma gift bags etc.) are also available for $4018). 9320 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, www.eventbrite.com.

Biscuit shuffle: Chef Kris Tominaga has replaced Wes Whitsell as executive chef at Manuela restaurant, located in the courtyard of the Hauser & Wirth Gallery of the downtown L.A. Arts District. Tominaga was previously the group executive chef of Pali Group, and was also behind the short-lived French restaurant Cadet in Santa Monica. Known for his take on Southern food at Hart & the Hunter, the restaurant inside the Palihotel on Melrose Avenue, Tominaga will put his own spin on Manuela's menu, which also slants Southern. And he may be known best for his biscuits, which this paper's restaurant critic Jonathan Gold described as "pretty extraordinary" in a review. Will he bring those biscuits to his new downtown kitchen? We can only hope. 907 E 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 849-0480, manuela-la.com.

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